It was the 48th anniversary of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s death yesterday. Hundreds of people rallied in the small town of Gory, his birthplace, in the Republic of Georgia. The commemoration came amid calls to ban the Communist Party in the former dictator's native Georgia. About 700 mourners, mostly members of the nation's Communist Party, gathered outside the Stalin memorial museum, 50 miles west of the capital, Tbilisi. They then marched to a monument to Stalin, where they laid wreaths. Historians say tens of millions of people were killed in political purges during Stalin's 24-year rule. But many people in the former Soviet Union still revere him for leading the country to victory in World War II and making it a world power. Georgia became independent with the 1991 Soviet collapse. The chairman of Georgia's Communist Party, Panteleymon Georgadze, said Stalin's cause lived on. At the same time, President Eduard Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister under Mikhail Gorbachev, suggested he would favour the ban of the Communist Party - he contends Communist demands to revive the Soviet Union threatened Georgia's independence and constitution.
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